When people think of the word brand, they often think of corporate logos, celebrities, big companies, and businesses. What most people may not realize is that they themselves are a brand.
All individuals have their own unique personal brand whether they realize it or not. Your personal brand follows you everywhere from job interviews to family outings, to first dates, and all other social situations.
This is why creating and protecting your personal brand is so important.
Your personal brand is a reflection of how you want to present yourself to your employers, friends, family, co-workers, and the rest of the world.
WHERE DO I BEGIN?
The first step to protecting your personal brand is finding out what is already out there.
Conduct a Google search for your name.
The best way to do this is to logout of your Gmail account and open an incognito window before beginning your search. This allows you to see the results as the rest of the world sees them with no influence from your previous searches or browsing history.
*Reputation911 Recommendation* When first searching for your name, begin with the name you believe most people will use when searching for you. Typically, if you are looking for a job or are concerned about your professional brand, search the name you use on your resume.
Analyze your results
The next step is to go through the first few pages of search results to see if anything shows up that represents your personal brand. After conducting your search, you may find one of four things
1. Someone else with your same name
You may find that most of the search results show information for someone else or multiple people with the same name. When other individuals have ownership of the first page results, people searching your name will not be able to find any information about you or even worse, may confuse you with someone else.
2. Negative information that does not represent your personal brand
You may search yourself and be surprised by a negative result that does not reflect your personal brand. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. However, these mistakes should not impact the rest of your life and leave a permanent mark on your online reputation. However, if these negative results are the first thing people see when they search your name, your positive personal brand will once again go unnoticed.
3. There’s nothing there
After looking through the first few pages of Google, you may find almost nothing relevant to your name at all. This might occur if you have a special or unique name that is not very common. Having nothing show up in your search results is just as bad as having negative results or someone else’s information. This could be the difference of an employer choosing you or another applicant. If people cannot find what they are looking for, they will quickly move on to someone else.
4. Positive results that promote your personal brand
If you’ve done your homework, you may already have a positive online presence with search results that accurately reflect your personal brand. When this is the case, you should remember to monitor and maintain your results while continuing to build your personal brand to even greater heights, reaching larger audiences and creating powerful social currency.
*Reputation911 Reminder* Most people will only search through the first few pages of Google before moving onto something else. If your information is not showing up on page one or two, it is unlikely that it is being seen.
Taking action: Step 1
Choosing what you want to say and see about yourself online.
A professional reputation manager can help you take the 1st step by reviewing your existing online content and developing a new persona you will be proud to have seen by your family, friends and colleagues.